BERLIN — Foreign producers searching for finance have long looked to Germany, where production coin is on the rise. Where once regional and national film funds provided the backbone for the local industry, a flood of private funds, which last year totaled an estimated 1.7 billion Deutschemarks ($949 million), have sent production volumes skyward.
More corporate money than ever is pouring into local and international productions, and as a result Teutonic players are feeling empowered by new strategic partnerships and a raft of successful media IPOs.
Take the Munich-based Kirch Group. Since it stepped up with the cash to keep “Baywatch” in production, it has been a key partner for U.S. players. Taking things one step further, Kirch recently teamed with Italy’s Mediaset to form a European alliance, Eureka. Capitalizing on Kirch’s production strengths, Eureka is a major new production partner in Europe for U.S. players. Now in a position to muscle in on larger projects, Eureka will aim for 20 to 30 big-budget U.S. co-productions annually, and five to 10 Euro productions planned long-term.
“What we are doing is a response to changes in the studios balance sheets,” says Eureka topper Jan Mojto. “We no longer have to be at the mercy of output deals, taking all the bad product that comes with them.”
International partnerships are on the rise, but new tax laws appear likely to curb the flow of German coin flowing out of the country via private funds for foreign productions.
From the $949 million generated last year from private funds, an estimated $726 million was earmarked for U.S. productions such as “A Map of the World,” starring Sigourney Weaver, and “Married 2 Malcolm,” starring “Full Monty” thesp Mark Addy for Universal.
“The Germans are basically fed up with the Americans coming over and having nothing to do with German films,” says one British producer who’s looking into setting up a fund here. “What you have to get right is the German element, using German infrastructure.”
Hardly a local pic gets made without the support of generous state and regional film subsidies, which totaled $171 million last year. Foreign productions also are eligible for support, although mechanisms are in place to ensure the region providing the coin benefits from the project.
Germany’s largest regional funder Filmstiftung NRW has co-financed many international projects, including Ken Loach’s “My Name Is Joe” and Cannes competition entry “Pola X.”